Tagged Spotted Seatrout and Snook are in Tampa Bay

The purpose of this article is to inform anglers in the Tampa Bay area of Florida about the presence of and what to do with spotted seatrout and snook that are implanted with external dart tags and internal sonic tags.

 

The placement of the external tag in a spotted seatrout.
Spotted seatrout (Cynoscion nebulosus)

The placement of an external tag in a common snook.
Common snook (Centropomus undecimalis)

Biologists are seeking angler participation in reporting catches of tagged spotted seatrout and snook. All tagged fish have both an external dart tag located behind the dorsal fin, and an internal sonic tag implanted in the abdomen.

External dart tags implanted in common snook.
External dart tags typically accumulate algae over time and the tag may need to be cleaned to read the tag number.

External dart tags can become encrusted with algae that must be cleaned off to read the tag information.
Internal sonic tags are implanted in the abdomen and anglers may notice sutures in the abdomen or a small scar.

The sonic tag is implanted through a small incision that is sutured closed.
Anglers will not see the implanted sonic tag but the external dart tag has a fish number that should be recorded and reported. All capture information should be reported to the

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's (FWC) Tag Hotline:

Phone: 1-800-367-4461 or E-mail: tagreturn@myfwc.com

Please include the following information in the report:

*Tag number
*Fish length (as pinched tail total length, illustrated above)
*Capture date, location, and time
*Angler name, address, phone number, and e-mail.FWC caps offered to anglers who report tagged spotted seatrout and snook.

All anglers who report tagged fish will receive a free cap like those pictured.

Anglers are encouraged to release all tagged fish. However, if a fish is harvested, please examine the abdomen of the fish prior to filleting regardless if the fish has an external tag. Unfortunately, the fish may shed the dart tag and an angler may unknowingly possess an implanted fish. By examining the abdomen for a surgery scar, the angler will know to take extra care in leaving the internal organs intact when filleting.

Important data can be obtained by biologists from the carcass, such as if the fish was still spawning and how the body healed following the surgery.  These critical data play a pivotal role in understanding fish reproduction and are only obtainable from carcasses donated by anglers. A biologist will pick up the carcass and the internal sonic tag. The sonic tag is a small black cylinder, typically resting above the gonads or stomach.

A sonic tag and the location of the incision into which it is implanted.
Biologists are monitoring the movements of these tagged fish to better understand spawning patterns of an individual fish. Submerged receivers record the sonic tag number as well as the date and time when an implanted fish swims within range of the receiver. Data are downloaded from the receivers and the spawning movement patterns can be compared between these two species as well as between males and females. Fish movement patterns are also analyzed with data collected on tide, current, water temperature, and lunar phase to determine if these factors influence spawning periodicity.

Half of the sonic tags have enough battery life to transmit data through the fall of 2007, and half of the sonic tags are "live" for 2.5 years. Valuable information will be collected from these fish as multiple years of data from individual fish give great insight on the spawning behavior of these animals. Public support is greatly appreciated as this research relies on the fish remaining in their environment. Thank you to all anglers for their help and efforts. Your support is vital in advancing the science necessary for appropriate management!



FWC Facts:
Snook are ambush feeders, often hiding behind bridge pilings, rocks and other submerged structures to surprise their prey.

Learn More at AskFWC